Commercial rust removers found in grocery stores are effective and safe for most fabrics. The important ingredient in these removers is an acid - usually oxalic or hydrofluoric acid. The remover ingredients combine with the iron and loosen it from the fabric, then hold it in suspension in the wash water. The compounds are poisonous if ingested, extremely toxic and can burn skin and damage appliance finishes. Use them carefully according to the manufacturers' directions, and rinse the clothes thoroughly. Any acid remaining deteriorates fabrics so add a second rinse.
Lemon juice and salt are readily available, much less toxic and will often give great results. Sprinkle salt on the stain, squeeze lemon juice onto the salt and spread the garment in the sun to dry. This works best on a colorfast garments. Test on a seam or inconspicuous spot to see if fading or bleaching occurs. You should have no problems with white or ecru fabrics.
Rust stains cannot be removed by normal laundering. If after treating, the stains remain repeat the steps. Do not put the clothing in the dryer because high heat will set the stains. Using chlorine bleach will make them permanent.
If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.
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